Through planning and perseverance “The Wood Urban Kitchen” is helping revitalize Market Street in Inglewood, despite being a relatively new business during the pandemic.
“We opened in January 2020 and we caught our groove a week or two before COVID (in March 2020),” began Jonathan De Veaux, a consultant for The Wood, an upscale BBQ spot in Inglewood. “We really got going and then COVID hit. Our whole time of being in existence is during COVID. We really don’t know what it is like to operate without COVID restrictions.”
Through resilience, The Wood quickly pivoted by initially focusing on takeout and deliveries. They also opened an expansive outdoor dining area, with a soulful vibe and ambiance.
De Veaux said the purpose of this particular Black-owned restaurant was to be a place where people can have fun listening to live music and watching sporting events. He said it is also important to participate in collective opportunities to celebrate Black culinary excellence like Black Restaurant Week LA, which runs through Sunday, Aug. 15.
According to Black Restaurant Week, LLC, the pandemic changed everything for Black-owned restaurants across the nation. Founded in 2016, three co-founders have grown a one-city food experience in Houston, to a yearly event now spanning cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, Toronto, and Los Angeles, which is recognized as one of the leading culinary destinations in the African Diaspora.
In 2020, Black Restaurant Week helped businesses generate an average increase in sales of 34 percent.
“We had phenomenal success last year with the regional campaigns and wanted to continue that model to help businesses nationwide,” said Warren Luckett, Black Restaurant Week founder. “There were so many testimonials from restaurant participants of how this campaign helped keep their doors open.”
“There hasn’t been a time where COVID hasn’t been over your shoulder,” De Veaux continued.
However, he said closing the restaurant was not an option so pivoting and coming out ahead was the only way forward.
“A challenge is a challenge… but at some point, it’s just obstacles, you have no choice but to adapt and keep moving,” De Veaux added. “What other choice is there, I’m not a quitter.”
As for the future, he has plans.
“I would like to open up a few more restaurants,” De Veaux said, who has worked in the hospitality industry for three decades including at The Savoy, also in Inglewood.
The full list of participating Black-owned restaurants in Los Angeles County can be found at blackrestaurantweeks.com.